Data centres - the backbone of the internet

Our collaborative research highlights how we can better design, build and operate data centres to help shape a more sustainable digital age.

Advances in technology fuel economic growth and social advancement, helping communities connect and driving growth in markets around the world.

The connectivity we rely on each day is rooted in the physical world – data centres, the backbone of the internet. These facilities make artificial intelligence and machine learning possible. Without data centers, there’s no ecommerce or autonomous vehicles, and we lose the ability to access knowledge at the touch of a button.

The true cost of connectivity to our planet

Our thirst for connectivity poses a growing threat to our natural environment – both through the power that data centres consume, and the carbon produced in their construction.

The International Energy Agency estimates that data centers used 460 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2022. In fact, if data centres were a country they would be the tenth largest consumer of electricity in the world, ahead of the likes of France, Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that this figure is set to double by 2026. If we are to balance our reliance on digital technology with the health of our planet, we must rethink the way we design, build and operate these critical facilities.

Adam Mactavish, Group Sustainability Director at Currie & Brown along with experts from Introba and Sidara have investigated how to rapidly decarbonise the expansion of data centres and the infrastructure that supports them. In this paper, they have identified priority action areas to reduce the carbon footprint of facilities and make them more sustainable.

Download the full report

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